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As its member hospitals prepare to move on, East End Health Alliance begins process of disbanding

With two of its three member hospitals becoming part of other health systems, the East End Health Alliance will soon be disbanding.

The parent organization of the three East End hospitals — Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport, Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead and Southampton Hospital — is “still alive” but will disband in the coming months, EEHA spokesman Paul Connor said today.

PBMC last week announced plans to join the North Shore-LIJ Health System and Southampton Hospital is formally affiliating with Stony Brook University Hospital. Southampton and Stony Brook announced the planned affiliation on Oct. 1, 2012. The SUNY trustees just approved the plan in January. See prior story.

Connor, president and CEO of Eastern Long Island Hospital said the EEHA board of directors met last night and approved resolutions to begin the process of removing EEHA as the “active parent” of both Peconic Bay Medical Center and Southampton Hospital and to begin the process of disbanding EEHA.

In order for PBMC and Southampton to move forward and establish those new relationships, the Alliance must be removed as the “active parent” in the eyes of the state health department, which has regulatory control over hospital organization and ownership.

The resolutions authorize certificate of need applications to the state health department, where a review process will take a few months, Connor said.

EEHA is “technically, still alive” until the state approves a certificate of need disestablishing it, Connor said.

No decisions have been made yet about the future of ELIH, Connor said last week, after PBMC’s announcement of its desired merger with North Shore-LIJ. The Greenport hospital is “still negotiating” with both North Shore and Stony Brook.
A decision will be made at ELIH’s next board meeting on May 28, he said.

The East End Health Alliance was formed in May 2008 to allow the three community hospitals on the Twin Forks to gain economies of scale and a stronger bargaining position in negotiations with managed care companies. It followed a 2006 final report by the NYS Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century — commonly referred to as the Berger Commission, which recommended the creation of a system led by Stony Brook and taking in the three East End hospitals as well as Brookhaven Memorial Hospital in Patchogue.

State Sen. Ken LaValle, a proponent of Stony Brook University, reacted angrily to PBMC’s decision to merge with North Shore, said last week he is “not willing to sit by and watch health care on the East End be ceded to a Nassau County facility.” The local health care should not be controlled by a hospital system based so far away, he said.

“We’ll see if the health department will approve this,” LaValle said.

Lisa Finn contributed reporting.